Day 2a: Little Rock

During my senior year of High School I worked part-time at an electronics factory across from our house.  I don't remember a lot about the jobs I did, but I do remember that they only played country music over the P.A. system.  Up to that point, I greatly disliked country music.  (I was taught that hate is a very strong word.)  By the time I finished working there I could listen to country music without cringing and I had a favorite country song that still comes to mind once in awhile.  Now I can't seem to get it out of my head.

Today we filled up on the hotel's complimentary breakfast then headed to the Arkansas State Capitol Building.  It has a traditional dome design, although the dome is not covered in bronze or copper like others we have seen.  Instead it is covered in Indiana limestone with a gold cupola on the top.  It is an impressive looking building with a tunnel entrance under the bronze doors.

After going through the metal detector, we picked up a self-guided tour booklet from the information center and watched a short video about the capitol and what we would see as we went through the building.  The parking lot attendant (free visitors' parking across from entrance) told us to go to the treasurer's office and get our picture taken with a "quarter million."  I wasn't quite sure what they would do, but we found it on the second floor.  We found out later that it is not advertised on the tour, but when we mentioned that we were told to stop in, the gentleman behind the teller divider motioned for us to come around.  We walked around behind the divider and they showed us the vault door and explained how it locked into place.  Then they directed us into the bank vault and handed us stacks of wrapped bills.  Our two oldest children were handed $50,000 in $100 bills.  We also held stacks of $20 bills and $10 bills.  Then they took our picture and posted it on a website we could download it from later.


Holding over $100,000 dollars in the Arkansas Treasurer's Office

This was my 17th state capitol to visit and I have never been handed thousands of dollars to hold.  It was a very unique experience.   We visited the Senate and House of Representatives chambers.  You could view them through glass at the chamber entrances.  The Senate gallery was locked, but we were able to get into the House gallery.

The Arkansas House Chamber as viewed from the gallery

 The capitol website has more information as well as great educational resources about government.  They also have a pdf copy of an activity book similar to the one we received at the Arkansas Welcome Center.  You can find those resources here.

Statues outside the Arkansas State Capitol of the "Little Rock Nine"

Outside the capitol we saw the statues of the nine African American teenagers who had to be escorted into Central (formerly Little Rock Senior) High School by federal troops after desegregation laws were passed following the Brown v. Board of Education decision.  We walked over to the statues and talked about what the kids represented and why it was such a big deal for them to go to an all-white school.  Later, we drove by the school, which is still in operation.  The National Park Service has a visitor's center across from the school that is free to tour to learn more about the "Little Rock Nine."

Little Rock Central High School

I think it is always good to expose our children to issues like this, so that we can help them see how we should treat people.  It is also a good reminder to adults as well.  Our oldest asked if there is anyone who is being treated like that now and it gave us an opportunity to talk about how fears and prejudices have always been around and that it is usually the newest group of people who is looked down on, rejected and judged.  Unfortunately, African Americans were promised freedom from slavery and then they were still denied basic freedoms that Caucasian Americans take for granted.  It is a sobering reminder to all of us to "love our neighbor" regardless of their color, age, religion or background.

Teaching our children to treat others with kindness

As we headed out of Little Rock to embark on the next stage of our long journey, we listened to the song that had been running through my head since we pulled into this friendly city last night.

 I think I'm on a roll
Here in Little Rock
I'm solid as a stone
Baby, wait and see
I got just one small problem
Here in Little Rock
Without you
Baby, I'm not me...
(Little Rock- Collin Raye)

Be watching for Day 2b:  Memphis, tomorrow.  (We just did so many interesting things today, I don't have time to share about it all tonight.)

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